VR and the Future of Car Design

By Bob Raikes
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design and innovation company Seymourpowell showed the new ways they’re using Virtual Reality (VR) to design cars at this year’s London Motor Show, with all the software coded from scratch, in-house. The core functionality came from the need to create sketches, curves and surfaces in VR. Using Augmented Reality, Seymourpowell have delivered a solution which allows multiple people to view the VR drawings in realtime without the need for additional headsets. The tool is compatible with all major PC-Based Virtual Reality headsets.

Some of its key capabilities include:

  • A networked platform: Allows teams in different parts of a building, or different geographical locations, to ‘dial in’ and all participate in the design process in real-time via tablets and VR headsets, as if in the same room.
  • Inspires greater collaboration: Is intended to break down existing barriers between designers, engineers and marketing teams by allowing them all to collaborate, interact and give feedback on the design process remotely from anywhere in the world.
  • Improves communication: designed to facilitates communication between designers, engineers and modelers by providing a shared workspace to address design challenges as and when they arise, instead of waiting until later in the design process when it might be too late.
  • Streamlines design process: All teams can work from the same data created in the shared VR tool, instead of converting sketches into different formats to be developed.
  • New opportunities for the customer: The technology can also allow customers who want bespoke or custom features or finishes to virtually experience them before they buy.
  • Greater transparency for marketers: Marketing teams can see how the car will look and function earlier on than traditional design methods allow.
  • New flexibility for the designer: VR sketching functionality allows designers to duplicate designs, draw complex spline curves, and work within industry safety regulations and parameters to ensure that every design is viable from an early stage.

Seymourpowell believes that its approach to VR design will help to shorten the time it takes to bring a new car from napkin sketch to showroom floor, allow the design of new cars to be more reactive to changing consumer needs and expectations, and ultimately produce better quality vehicles by facilitating more effective collaboration between teams within automotive companies.

Analyst Comment

The company has, in the past, created a TV design for LG (back in 2008).